I’d been seeing Sarah (not her real name) for several years. She came in every year faithfully, for her annual Well Woman Exam. Like so many women, Sarah had an ongoing weight problem. She expressed frustration with herself with what she saw as her inability to control herself and get rid of the excess weight.
Every year, we discussed the usual strategies: consume fewer calories, increase physical activity. Then one year, at her annual exam, Sarah was 22 pounds lighter! She seemed to have a bit of a sparkle in her eyes.
I told her how thrilled I was for her success. I was truly hoping she wouldn’t say something like, “I went on the HCG diet,” or “I started the ‘blah blah’ shake diet and haven’t had a bite of solid food in months!” I knew that if she had said something like this, the extra weight would be back within the next year, or even sooner, as it was with every single patient I ever had who did some radical weight-loss scheme. Fortunately for her, that apparently was not the case.
Then I didn’t see Sarah for another year. At her next annual exam, I almost fell over when I looked at her chart before I walked into the exam room. Not only had Sarah kept off the 22 pounds, but she had lost another 19! This year, not only did Sarah have a sparkle in her eye, but she was sitting up straight and tall, and she had a joyful laugh.
I enthusiastically congratulated her again, and then I asked her this: “Sarah, you not only lost weight successfully but you kept it off for over a year and then lost even more! How did you do it? What was different this time?” I wanted to know what the big secret was, and her answer almost knocked me over.
She very simply answered, “I decided that I loved myself enough to do whatever it was going to take.” The answer was so simple, yet so profound. We talked on and on about what it meant. Sarah finally understood that she was worth something. She decided that she loved herself enough to do whatever necessary to be healthy, which for her meant losing excess weight.
She decided to love herself enough to exercise the wonderful body she had been given. She loved herself enough to feed her body with a beautiful array of foods that nourished and sustained her. She ate her meals in quantities that were satisfying but not excessive. She loved herself enough to begin leaving food on her plate and pushing it away. With each baby step that she took, Sarah said to herself, “I’m worth it.”
Beyond losing her excess weight, Sarah had also recently parted ways with an abusive, disrespectful boyfriend. Let me emphasize, however, that this was not a result of weight loss. This was not because she achieved some standard of attractiveness that she had not had before, and could attract a better guy. Sarah dumped the loser guy once and for all because she knew that she deserved love, kindness, and respect from everyone in her life, and she would no longer settle for anything less.Her self-respect and her sense of worth came from within herself, and not from any man.
If you know that weight loss is necessary for your health, (or quitting smoking, or putting a stop to escapism of compulsive shopping, or some other unhealthy habit), I hope that you will learn from Sarah’s example as I have.
I hope that you will take a long look in the mirror and see that you are worth the effort. I hope that you will reach down inside yourself and recognize the gifts that you give the world, how very much you matter, and how you are worth fighting for. Then, I hope more than anything, that you embrace your future, start taking those baby steps, and don’t look back.
I hope you begin to love yourself enough.